Formations Summary

January–April 2018

Unit 1: Evangelism in the Old Testament

Nikki Finkelstein-Blair
Growing up in mission-hearted and discipleship-minded churches, we often heard the call to “go and tell” the stories of Jesus and to share our testimonies of God’s faithfulness and Christ’s redemption. However, the New Testament was not the beginning of evangelism. Centuries before Jesus’ Great Commission, God’s people shared the good news of God’s love. In this unit, we will hear from prophets and kings whose faithfulness, service, and messages proclaim what they believed but had not yet seen: salvation and the ultimate reign of God.

Unit 2: Looking to Jesus

Taylor Sandlin
This four-lesson unit, drawn from the book of Hebrews, envisions the life of faith not merely as a set of beliefs but also—and more importantly—as a journey toward God. This journey, and ours, begins in Christ as we explore the importance of his humanity in his suffering and defeat of death. In the second lesson, we will look forward to the rest God has promised us and draw courage to persevere. Next, we will learn of others who persevered by examining the faithful heroes of Israel’s history, including Christ. Finally, as we stand publicly beside our Savior, we will remember that the life of faith is primarily made up of the struggles of everyday life,.

Unit 3: Jesus Teaches and Heals

Matt Sapp
As we approach Easter, we will follow Jesus toward Jerusalem and the end of his earthly ministry, pausing with him in the book of Matthew for the pressing work of teaching his followers and healing those who come to him. Aided by Matthew’s vivid descriptions, we will begin with two compassionate healings; move to lessons about rules, possessions, and priorities; and conclude on Easter Sunday with Christ’s final instructions to his disciples and his Great Commission. Together, we’ll discover that Jesus continues to prioritize people and their needs over outward appearances and the established ways of doing things.

Unit 4: The Life of Barnabas

Jason Loscuito
We know the name Barnabas, but we may only remember bare facts about him: he traveled with Paul, his name means “son of encouragement.” This unit explores four of the roles Barnabas filled in the book of Acts: the generous giver, the encourager, the preacher, the defender of Gentiles. Barnabas’s life, recorded in these distinct stages, helps us to better understand the struggles, joys, and growing pains of the early church. This early disciple’s roles are also ones we undertake as we mature in Christ and in fellowship with our fellow believers.

May–August 2018

Unit 1: Paul and the Spirit

Keith Durso
Most of us are familiar with the story of Cinderella, her ugly stepsisters, and their cruel stepmother. The Holy Spirit is sort of the Cinderella of Christian doctrine. Like Cinderella, we tend to keep the Spirit hidden away, bringing it out only when absolutely necessary. In these lessons, we will discover how differently Paul treats the Holy Spirit. Through Paul’s writings, we will see how the Spirit made one congregation an example of Christian living and gifted another with spectacular—though sometimes misused—gifts. We will visualize a courtroom where the guilty are declared not guilty and another scene where former enemies embrace. Finally, we will be reminded that even if we ignore the Spirit, the Spirit will not ignore us.

Unit 2: Lesser-Known Prophets

Joseph V. LaGuardia
When we think of prophets, we likely think of fortune-tellers who declare the future or those with gifts so rare and important that whole books of the Bible are named after them. This study will help correct both understandings by examining the accounts of four lesser-known prophets: Nathan, who confronts King David; Ahijah, who informs Jeroboam that he will rule ten tribes after King Soloman’s death; Micaiah, who uses satire to tell King Ahab the truth; and Huldah, who guides King Josiah in his pursuit of God. Their examples teach us that prophets are, in biblical times and today, messengers declaring God’s intentions for God’s people.

Unit 3: Becoming God’s People

Paul Redditt
Beginning with Israel’s great statement of monotheism, the Shema, this unit examines ways that Israel’s commitment to one God frames their identity as God’s people. They destroy Canaanite religious sites in order to worship God in the place set before them. They also anoint kings to rule on their behalf, choosing people who observe the law and resist the trappings of power. Finally, they offer their first fruits to express their faith, to remember God’s provision, and to enact God’s vision for a just society. Just as Moses entreated God’s people on the banks of the Jordan, we are called to choose life by following these commandments and by seeking God first.

Unit 4: Jesus’ Priorities

Stephanie Ezell
In this unit, Jesus establishes his priorities through four major decisions. First, Jesus emphasizes a healthy balance between work and rest by calling his disciples to rest after their extended time of preaching, teaching, and healing. Next, he demonstrates saying no and setting appropriate boundaries with others. Third, Jesus exemplifies goal setting and endurance as he “sets his face” toward Jerusalem, knowing both the redemption and the pain to come (Lk 9:51). Finally, Jesus addresses the importance of casting aside our worries and relying on God’s promises to care for us. Jesus puts God at the center of his decisions, trusting in God and God’s purpose. As we strive to do the same, we will discover that God alone deserves a place at the center of our lives.